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FSA ends insider probe; Nomura targets tipsters

by Takahiko Hyuga

Bloomberg

Nomura Holdings Inc. said employees who leaked insider information on client transactions three years ago will be punished as the regulator signals an end to a crackdown that roiled the nation’s largest brokerage last year.

Nomura will take “strict action” against the two employees who gave confidential data to three asset management firms, Kenji Yamashita, a spokesman in Tokyo, said Monday, without giving details. The securities watchdog recommended fining the funds, including a unit of Nippon Life Insurance Co., for trading on the tips. JPMorgan Chase & Co. also said Monday that a former employee leaked information in 2010.

The Financial Services Agency ordered Nomura to improve compliance last year and the Tokyo-based bank’s top two executives resigned after staff leaked information on share sales it managed. The scandal prompted the FSA to propose stiffer penalties for tipsters, including prison, to restore confidence in local markets that have rebounded this year.

“Strong punishments will probably be required to avoid any more leaks,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “Brokerages operating in Japan have been strengthening internal controls for insider trading,” he said, predicting little impact on Japan’s financial markets from the latest revelations.

The findings close the chapter on the regulator’s probe into insider trading connected to public share offerings, an FSA official said at a news briefing Monday, asking not to be named in accordance with the agency’s policy. At the same time, the FSA ordered Nomura to submit a report by early next month on the effectiveness of measures the firm has implemented since 2012 to prevent further leaks, the official said.

Nomura CEO Koji Nagai said the company has already taken steps to strengthen compliance and internal controls. Nomura penalized 17 employees for information leaks last year, with punishments including dismissal, Yamashita said.